Student Activity Monitor

web tool

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Sten Govaerts, K.U. Leuven
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Introduction

To increase self-reflection and awareness among students and for teachers, we developed a tool that allows analysis of student activities with different visualizations. The following figure shows a screenshot of the start screen of the tool and the different visualizations.

Screenshot 1 (see below) demonstrated the main screen with 3 parts. On the top left (box 1) different visualizations are presented. On the top right (box 2), an overview of statistics for the course is selected. The bottom (box 3) shows recommendations for useful material. The recommendations are calculated based on the time students spent working with them or on the number of times these documents have been used.

Visualizations

There are 3 different visualizations: the line chart (box A) (also in Screenshot 2), parallel coordinates (box B) (see Screenshot 3) and the bar chart (box C). In general the same colour scheme is used everywhere. The red colour represents a selected user and the yellow colour represents the average user. If a student is logged in also a green colour is visible on the charts that shows the logged in user.

Every line in the line chart is one student. In the figure above a student is selected in red. The lines show when the user has been working and how long. On the horizontal axis you have time when the students have been working, in this case from early March to November and there is a period from the end of April until the beginning of September of inactivity. Inactivity can be seen by a horizontal flat line. On the vertical axis the total time spent on the course is presented. So when the line of a student goes up, it means that he has been working on the course. If it stays horizontal, he has not been working for that period.

As can be seen, in Screenshot 2 there are many lines, which can be good to see tendencies, but also causes clutter. Therefore you can select a part of the data, by using the small chart at the bottom. By dragging the left and right side of the grey box, laid over the chart at the bottom, you can select an interval of the activities.

The parallel coordinates chart is a bit more complex than the line chart. Every grey line again represents one student. The vertical axis shows different dimensions, for example respectively the hour of the day people have been working, the total time spent on the course, the average time spent on a document or task and the number of documents used by a student. The line connects the different data points for a student on the four axes. The main goal of this visualization is to see tendencies and to compare yourself with other students. An average student is calculated, shown in yellow.

The bar chart shows the distribution of the total time spent on the course or the number of documents used by splitting up the students in equal buckets. In Screenshot 4, you can see that the majority of the students spends below 20h in the online course. If a user was logged in, the section where he belonged would be coloured green (similar to the green lines in the line chart and parallel coordinates). You can increase the number of bins on the top and select a different metric.

In the statistics window (see Box 2, Screenshot 1), simple statistics are shown related to the time spent on the online course and the documents used. There is also a visual representation of these statistics on line. The same colours as everywhere else are here used and added to that red shows the minimum value and blue shows the maximum.

References

"Visualizing Activities for Self-reflection and Awareness", Sten Govaerts, Katrien Verbert, Joris Klerkx, Erik Duval, The 9th International Conference on Web-based Learning, ICWL 2010, Springer, Lecture Notes on Computer Science, available here.

  • Screenshot 1: The user interface of the Student Activity Meter and its visualizations.
    Screenshot 1: The user interface of the Student Activity Meter and its visualizations.
  • Screenshot 2: The line chart visualization.
    Screenshot 2: The line chart visualization.
  • Screenshot 3: The parallel coordinates visualization.
    Screenshot 3: The parallel coordinates visualization.
  • Screenshot 4:The bar chart visualization.
    Screenshot 4:The bar chart visualization.

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